You've had jobs you loved and jobs you hated and you may think you know yourself pretty well when it comes to going to work. But developing a long-term career plan still can be a daunting task. With so many options, it is important to home in on a career path that will fit with your natural skills, talents and personality traits. What if there were a test that would point you in the right direction? Well, there is -- several of them, in fact. You will find them online and at your local community career center.
The John Holland Code
John Holland was a psychologist who came up with a tool to match suitable vocations with specific personality types. Through a series of tests, you determine your top three categories out of six: artistic, social, enterprising, conventional, realistic and investigative. Each specific combination -- abbreviated as a three-letter type -- yields a comprehensive list of suitable careers. For example, if you test as conventional, enterprising, investigative, or CEI, you will have different career options from someone who tests as investigative, social, artistic, or ISA.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, is a popular personality test that also offers suggestions for potential careers. It features an either/or model, having you choose between a number of distinct preferences. According to this model, you are either introverted (I) or extroverted (E), intuitive (N) or sensing (S), thinking (T) or feeling (F), judging (J) or perceiving (P). The four letters add up to one of 16 letter combinations, creating your "type". Examples are INFJ, ENTJ and ISFP. Each type corresponds to a different set of personality traits and potential careers. Once you know your personality type, you can make better career choices.
Strong Interest Inventory
The Strong Interest Inventory, or SII, focuses on your interests with only a side glance at personality traits. A popular assessment among students and military veterans, it measures your interest levels in six categories: occupations, people, subject matter, your personality, activities and leisure activities. In stead of an either/or model like the MBTI, the SII has you rate your interest along a continuum from "strongly like" to "strongly dislike."
Dependable Strengths Articulation Process
But perhaps written tests were never your forte. The Dependable Strengths Articulation Process, or DSAP, is a group process that involves sitting with others and sharing stories about your life experiences. From these experiences, you are meant to identify your strengths, which then generate a host of career options that build upon your strengths. If you are unable to attend an in-person program, you can take the test online for a fee.
Parker Janney is a web developer and writer based in Philadelphia. With a Master of Arts in international politics, she has been ghostwriting for several underground publications since the late 2000s, with works featured in "Virtuoso," the "Philadelphia Anthropology Journal" and "Clutter" magazine.